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David Lloyd at Taunton
April 6, 2012
Somerset 202 for 3 trail Middlesex 246 by 44 runs
What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, it seemed, as Somerset worked their way through Middlesex's middle and lower order and then made a sprightly start to their reply. But those who watch Somerset on a regular, rather than occasional, basis, know better than to take anything for granted - and they were right to urge a bit of caution.
Supporting Somerset must have been a real roller-coaster ride over the years, especially of late when one prize after another has been snatched from their grasp. But, really, followers cannot help but be optimistic about a team containing so many talents and, by close of play on the second day, most of those leaving the County Ground were once again anticipating a home victory in this first championship match of the season.
Mind, it needed an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 99 between Nick Compton and Craig Kieswetter to halt Middlesex's fightback. Both made half-centuries and they trooped off with their team only 44 runs in arrears at 202 for three.
From purring along in cruise control, Somerset had threatened to lose their way with Marcus Trescothick and James Hildreth falling in the space of five balls before Kieswetter survived a clear run out opportunity on six.
Middlesex deserve a fair share of the credit for the home side's failure to take complete charge of this contest. They might have been rolled over for not much more than 150 as Vernon Philander converted three first-day wickets into a well deserved five-for, but instead clambered up to 246 with Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones making 45 and 23 not out at Nos. 9 and 10.
Things looked bleak again for last season's second division champions with Trescothick, initially outscored by opening partner Arul Suppiah, threading sweetly-timed drives through the covers. Another hour or two of Trescothick in vintage form and Middlesex would have been staring down both barrels but the slightly belated introduction of offspinner Ollie Rayner for the 27th over changed the picture.
Trescothick, having hit nine fours in his 47, pushed tentatively forward at Rayner's fifth ball which turned enough to find the outside edge and travel to slip. With Hildreth promptly yorked by Gareth Berg, Middlesex suddenly had a spring in their step again - and all it needed then, from their point of view, was for Joe Denly to run out Kieswetter.
England's one-day wicketkeeper almost reached the far crease before realising that his partner,Compton, was going nowhere but he still managed to regain his ground, with the help of a desperate dive, after Denly had thrown at the striker's stumps, and missed, when he could have waited for a team-mate to arrive at the timbers.
Kieswetter had eased the tension by pulling Rayner a couple of times when the slow bowler dropped short - and it was he who reached 50 just ahead of his colleague. Compton, though, had moved ahead by the close to finish a good day personally following his earlier direct hit run out of Murtagh.
It was another run-out incident, the one that saw Kieswetter escape, that really cost Middlesex dear, however. A scoreboard reading 111 for 4 was what might have been.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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